London / France Update

So, as I’ve mentioned, I’m in London. I went abroad last Wednesday from Manchester NH, and arrived sometime mid afternoon here. I went and found my hostel, and walked around London for a little while, refinding old places. Later in the afternoon, another Norwich alum, Naomi arrived at Waterloo – we were staying at the same hostel, and I was able to lead her to it. We walked around, found dinner and hung out for a little while. Thursday was fun – We went out to Oxford in the morning and walked around the place for a little while, went to most of the cool sites, although we didn’t go into any of the schools, but we did end up at the Eagle and Child, then went back home to London. From there, we discovered that the musical Spamalot was playing in the West End, and went out to go see that – absolutely fantastic and brilliant musical. Anyone who’s a fan of the movie, Monty Python and the Holy Grail would absolutely love it – it’s a fantastic adaptation, and they’ve thrown in a huge number of references to Flying Circus and Life of Brian. I can’t remember when I laughed so hard. Highly recommended for everyone. The next day, we went out and met up with Sara, who’s still in London. We also met up with her friend Rob, who I met last time I was here. We walked around for the rest of the day, got lunch and dinner and generally caught up and chatted. It was a lot of fun. I brought my suitcase over to her apartment, which is waay out in Zone 3. It’s quite a ride out. The next morning, I left Naomi, who was to leave later in the week and went out to Heathrow, where I flew to Paris. It was a quick flight, and I arrived in Charles De Gaulle somewhat disoriented, but I found my hotel within an hour or so, where I met up with the Norwich people who were already there. I met up with Vice President Whaley and President Schneider, as well as several trustees, General Sullivan and General Nelson, which was cool. We had dinner there, which was fantastic, and then went to bed. The next morning, we were up early, got on the bus and picked out a couple more people, and then drove out to Normandy, via Caen. We stopped along the way at Pegasus Bridge, which was the first structure in Normandy to be liberated by the allied forces, the 6th British Airborne Company C. The store was a literal shrine to the American and British soldiers. I, along with General Sullivan, General Nelson, President Schneider and V. President Whaley had dinner in the back room, where I suspect that few tourists see. Afterwards, we walked around the area, saw where the three gliders of the Company C landed, as well as looked over the bridge. It was a cool walkaround. Our next stop was a windshield survey of the British and Canadian beaches and the tactical significance of their actions. We got back on the bus and went out to our hotel, which was really really high quality place. We had a seminar where we went over the overal world situations of World War 2, and I presented on half of my paper. We had dinner there and went to bed. The next morning (Tuesday), we set out for the vicinity of Utah Beach. While we were driving around, we spent a lot of time on tactics and the overall stratigy of the invasion and how all the elements fit in together. We first looked over the airborne forces and how they operated and the conditions in which they landed. We stopped by St Mere Eglis, which was captured on the first day, and where a lot of the American soldiers assembled. From there, we went to Utah Beach, where we went over the beaches. Utah was the easier of the two beaches, and we discussed that. There were a couple of bunkers on site, and we looked over those. We then got lunch and move on to Point Du Hoc, the site where the Rangers landed and took a German Battery that could fire down on the beaches and Allied forces. There are still a number of bunkers and craters still there, although the actual memorial is off limits due to cliff erosion. We returned to the hotel, dinner, etc, and the next day, we set out for Omaha Beach. We arrived there and talked about the people who landed there, and how it differed from Utah beach (2000 people killed as opposed to 200). We visited several sites there. I was presented a book by the entire group, who’d signed it, in thanks for my work on the Norwich people. I talked a bit about the Norwich alumni there, and we visited the American cemetary overlooking the beach. It was a horrible sight. I was a little disgusted by the people there – taking video and tons of photographs, generally acting like tourists. It seemed disrespectful. I found the resting places of four Norwich people (None were at that site). We then went on to lunch at Arromannes, where we got lunch and I sent off my postcards to the US (Various people should be getting them in a couple days). I went out to the cliffs and looked at the rocks and did some drawings, and we returned back to the hotel where we took a rest and had our last seminar, where we discussed the trip and how it can be used in the future. It was an interesting talk, and we took another break, packed and went to our last dinner there. Yesterday morning, we drove back to Paris, where I got my flight. I’d hoped to meet up with Linh, but we didn’t get around to meeting up like we’d hoped (Sorry!). I flew back to London, where I dropped by bags off and bought a couple of books, found a park and read for a while, then met up with Sara, got dinner and went up to her place, where I am right now. I called home, Sarah and work (to brag), and passed out. I’m taking a break today, just staying in, resting from all the walking around that I’ve been doing, and catching up on TV show finales that I missed. LOST was mindblowing, and Heroes (which I’m watching now) is just jaw dropping. Many thanks to Sara for letting me stay here, because it’s a much appreciated break and good to talk with people that I know. Pictures can be seen in the links below. Now, for the rest of Heroes and lunch.

Album 1

Album 2

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